Refrigeration while boon-docking

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DonaldTraill

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Mar 3, 2022
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Easton, PA, United States
For short duration boondocking excursions you should check out the possibility of buying dry ice and putting it in the fridge to save power. The biggest problem will be overkill resulting in your drinks freezing. 3-4 pounds in the freezer up top kept my fridge cold too for three day weekends. BTW my fridge didn't work...
 
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Len and Jo

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Apr 25, 2005
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1,389
Another option is reducing your power consumption. In our old RV we installed 412Ah of lithium batteries and that WITH NO SUN could run our refrig 6-8 days. With sun and our 300 watts of solar we could camp indefinitely . We had also added as much insulation to the refrig as we could.
 

Mark_K5LXP

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Albuquerque, NM
It's at the local grocery store here. Last time I bought it around $1.50/lb. I wrap it in a towel and it does what you'd expect in a cooler. Had to look it up on the google here, sez dry ice is about 70% more cooling as an equivalent weight of ice, so it would cost more than even purchased bags of ice. The advantage is no water to deal with. For the camper though I'll get a bag of ice and that way I have cubes for my drinks all weekend.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
 

uchu

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Ontario, Canada
If dry ice is used in a cooler, it needs to be properly ventilated (i.e., not in a tight seal cooler) and stored outside of the living area (tent or RV). It can generate a lot of pressure and it's also oxygen depleting.
 

Mark_K5LXP

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Nov 17, 2018
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Albuquerque, NM
First hit on the google:

One pound of dry ice will produce 250 liters of carbon dioxide gas at atmospheric pressure. In a sealed container (e.g., portable freezer), the gas can create pressures high enough to rupture the vessel or explode.

250L is a cube about 2x2x2 feet. Not a huge amount of air displacement over the time it takes to completely disappear.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
 

UTTransplant

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Jul 20, 2014
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Cedar Falls, IA
I would definitely not use dry ice in a sealed refrigerator. I also wouldn’t use it in an enclosed indoor space for the reasons Mark just gave. In a cooler where you open it a few times a day to allow the gas to escape? That is a much better approach.
 

Reinigm

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May 12, 2021
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Westminster, CA
Yeah, mine does too. If I don’t have electric I put out my cheap HF solar system to keep the battery charged enough to keep the propane fridge running and burn a few lights at night.
I've been wondering about these. How do they attach to the system in the RV?
 

JayArr

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Jun 13, 2020
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Mission British Columbia Canada
I think I'll just stick with my propane fridge. It's an older model that uses battery to start the pilot but doesn't require any battery to continue running once lit (no circuit board). If I really need to, I can manually light the pilot without any battery power from outside while my wife holds the button, then it will run as long as there is gas.
 

Jkoht

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Jul 24, 2017
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223
I think I'll just stick with my propane fridge. It's an older model that uses battery to start the pilot but doesn't require any battery to continue running once lit (no circuit board). If I really need to, I can manually light the pilot without any battery power from outside while my wife holds the button, then it will run as long as there is gas.
Mine is older too and doesn't have a control board. I have a manual piezo ignitor on the front to start it. It'll run 2 weeks easy on 20lbs of propane.
 

FunSteak

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Aug 24, 2013
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610
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NE Illinois
We have a 2-way fridge, LP or 120V, and couldn't be happier with it. You can run it for the whole season on one tank of LP.

For pre-chilling (can't run it while on my steep driveway), rather than dry ice, we just keep some frozen half-gallon jugs of water in our S&B freezer. The ice lasts for at least a couple of days, and you can drink the water after it thaws.

Bought the juice or whatever anyway - this provides a completely free way of chilling the fridge or coolers, with no drips or mess.
 

dave54

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Apr 13, 2005
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235
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Northeast California
Camped at Cedar Breaks National Monument last summer -- Point Supreme CG.
The refrigerator would not run on propane there. Too high (10,000 feet). Our fridge worked at 9000 feet OK. That extra altitude was too much. So we had to run the gennie all day to keep the fridge working. I am sure the other campers were happy with us...
 

Isaac-1

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Dec 3, 2016
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SW Louisiana
I too will stick with my propane absorption refrigerator, in worst case hot weather conditions it may consume about 1 pound of propane per day, I have a 32 gallon propane tank on my motorhome, which means it holds about 110 pounds worth of propane, or enough to run the refrigerator for nearly 4 months, in reality probably longer as it is doubtful that it would be 4 months of continuous hot weather running all out 24 hours per day. Add in my 400 watts of solar panels and 420 AH of 12V LiFePo4 batteries, and I should be able to provide the roughly 12 watts of power needed for the control board and door defrost heater. (288 watt hours per day).
 

RVfixer

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Aug 12, 2012
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424
I guess I don't get all the various ways and expense to store and/or produce power. Maybe it is because we haven't boon-docked in very hot weather...and don't want to do that. However, we do boon-dock so to speak, in that we stay in a National Park with no hookups for a month in the spring and a month in the fall in most years. We never have a problem with electric power. We have two cheap so called marine type deep cycle batteries, have converted all our 12 VDC lights to LEDs and use a 2000i Honda generator. Generator hours in the NP are a couple of hours in the morning and three-hours in the evening. We use a low wattage toaster and electric coffee pot and a portable inverter for the TV. We get by just fine with the propane fridge, water heater and furnace. We keep the fridge and water heater on gas so we don't overload the generator when using the toaster or coffee pot. We only use the furnace for a few minutes when we first come back to the trailer to get the chill off quickly. Then we use a portable propane Heat Pal type heater when we are not sleeping. Sometimes we do just one charge period per day with the generator, sometimes we skip a day of generator use because we are out hiking. Never have a power problem.

I would never put dry ice in my trailer fridge or in a cooler...sounds risky to me!!
 

Zulu Kono

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May 28, 2022
Posts
32
Location
USA
For short duration boondocking excursions you should check out the possibility of buying dry ice and putting it in the fridge to save power. The biggest problem will be overkill resulting in your drinks freezing. 3-4 pounds in the freezer up top kept my fridge cold too for three day weekends. BTW my fridge didn't work...
There are two main reasons we switched from tent camping back to a TT.
Dedicated beds always set up ready to go, and refrigeration.
When I was camper-shopping, anything that didn't
have a working fridge was immediately eliminated.
I'm done with buying dry ice.
I can take 140 lbs. of propane with me on any given trip.
That'll run the fridge for a looong time.
 
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